The Royal British Legion (RBL) has halted sales of Pull the Pin rum, which opens with a grenade-like mechanism, following complaints that it is “offensive” and “glorifies war”.
The military charity partnered with an army veteran's business called Pull the Pin to create a bespoke centenary bottle, emblazoned with RBL’s logo and “100” to mark the charity's anniversary.
After a Tweet satirising the product went viral, over 500 Twitter users have voiced their distaste of it, with one calling it “offensive” another “insensitive” and many claiming it glorifies war.
Following the controversy, RBL released a statement on 11 November saying they had received a “number of complaints” about the product and chosen to remove it from the website.
At the time of writing, the Tweet has over 2,000 likes and over 1,200 retweets.
Many mistakenly took the product as a parody or spoof, and were shocked to find it was real and being endorsed by the charity.
I was so convinced this was a spoof I had to go and look for myself and yes it's there. I am almost dumbfounded.— Geoff Hibbert (@GeoffHibbert3) November 10, 2021
Another user deemed the product offensive.
@fedupofSuffolk said: “Did you consider how this will look to the relatives of servicemen blown up by a grenade? My granddad survived being gassed and I find it offensive.”
Several commenters felt the rum's resemblance to a grenade would trigger post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in some veterans.
@pjd23272 said: “Guessing PTSD isn’t a thing, right? I don’t think a grenade is ever a fun way to do anything, and I reckon there aren’t many people who’ve ever witnessed one who want reminding of it.”
Others felt that the product glorified conflict rather than promoted remembrance of those who died in warfare.
Yes, let's celebrate millions of deaths and injuries by buying something that reminds us of an instrument of death and injury. Not sure that this has been all that well thought out.— Philippe Philoppe (@PhilipePhiloppe) November 10, 2021
The Royal British Legion's response
The RBL initially defended the product, and tweeted: “So this product isn’t actually made by us. @pullthepinspirits is a veteran-owned business.
“Their name is a military metaphor for 'pulling the pin' on all life’s negativity to focus on its positives, & a metaphor for knowing when to free yourself from danger. If you’ve served, you’ll likely know the expressions.
“@pullthepinspirits and the other veteran-owned businesses on Veteran’s Market are brilliant examples of how we support vets into employment, and in PTP’s case of how they want to give back to us too after we’ve supported their transition to civvy life.”
But a day later, the RBL announced that “following a number of complaints” it had removed the product from its shop.
Following a number of complaints, we are undertaking a review of the Pull the Pin rum on our Poppy Shop and therefore we have removed the product at this time. 1/2 pic.twitter.com/wu2gCmkCLx— Royal British Legion (@PoppyLegion) November 11, 2021
The RBL added: “This course of action has been taken as it is important we now focus on Armistice Day and the Remembrance weekend, however we remain committed to supporting our veteran community in their employment after service.”
Pull the Pin's response
Tom Foster, the founder of Pull the Pin, told The Independent: “In the media recently there has been an incorrect link between the bottle and ‘celebrating’ remembrance as well as linking the bottle to a grenade. Neither of which is what the bottle is for or about and it saddens me immensely that this has happened, especially today [Remembrance Day].
“We are an active part of the military and veteran community and develop our military-linked products with them. I am very thankful for the incredible support from them especially with this commemorative rum.
“We are saddened that the bottle is removed from sale and is prevented from continuing to raise funds and highlight the valuable work that the RBL continues to do.”